Textbook Notes (363,501)
Canada (158,383)
Sociology (1,481)
SOC101Y1 (470)
Adam Green (15)
Chapter 8

SOC101Y1 - New Society - Sixth Edition - Chapter 8 Notes.docx

11 Pages
Unlock Document

University of Toronto St. George
Adam Green

SOCIOLOGY REVIEW CHAPTER 8: RACE AND ETHNIC RELATIONS INTRODUCTION: th  On September 5 1995, the occupation of Ipperwash began because some band members believed that an ancient burial ground was being desecrated and they wanted to protect their ancestors’ resting place  D. George was shot and killed by an OPP officer  The officer was eventually convicted of criminal negligence causing death and the larger circumstances surrounding the incident were investigated at a public inquiry in late 2005 and early 2006  The trial of the OPP officer and the public inquiry turned up unpleasant facts about racism within the OPP and within the provincial government of the day  Officers were recorded using references such as baiting the Indians with alcohol  In November 2005, the Ipperwash inquiry into the death of D. George turned up some equally ugly racist views expressed by provincial government  Ethnic and racial tensions in Canada do not often end in physical violence or violent death; they seem to be peaceful here  The sociology of ethnic and racial relations concerns primarily the study of how power and resources are unequally distributed among ethnic and racial groups THE SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION OF DIFFERENCE:  The assumption underlying our commonsense understandings of the terms, race, racial, ethnic, and ethnicity, is that race and ethnicity are ascribed characteristics; assumed that we are born with a certain race or ethnicity that cannot be changed  But sociologists recognize that we do not necessarily have fixed and unalterable ethnic and racial characteristics or identities  Sociologists see race and ethnicity as achieved characteristics; statues that are acquired by virtue of social definition  Sociologists do not agree on how to define and measure ethnicity  There are two types of definitions for ethnicity: 1. Objective definitions of ethnicity - assume that ethnic groups exist because of people’s social attachments - ethnicity is something that people possess because of differences in language, culture, customs, national origin, and ancestry 2. Subjective approaches to ethnicity - Focus on the process of ethnic identification - Ethnicity is a transactional process - Ethnic groups are made up of people who identify themselves or others as belonging to the same ancestral or cultural group - Cultural characteristics and whether one is born into a certain group is irrelevant - Ethnicity is self-defined and reflects a shared “we-feeling” within a collectivity - Identities are situational, variable and flexible  Most ethnic categories we take for granted are actually recent historical creations (Example: the term “English” today differs from the terms, “Celts”, “Saxons”, Normans”, and so on, and some of these people came to be known as “the English”)  the way in which people define themselves, and are defined by others, is in constant flux  Ethnic categories and identities are recast and created anew; this is happening in Canada now; in a 2006 census, “Canadians” were numerically the largest ethnic group  Some of us define our ethnic roots and identity as “Canadian” because … 1. some may not be interested or aware of their roots and by default, define themselves as Canadians 2. defining ourselves as Canadian is a political act used to express our dissatisfaction with the government’s policy of multiculturalism 3. Canadian is the group with whom we identify and with whom we share a sense of belonging  Most scientists believed that races were real and objective subdivisions of homo sapiens and divisions of race were based on a combination of unalterable physical and genetic characteristics such as skin colour, hair texture, body and facial shape, genetic diseases, metabolic rates, and distribution of blood groups, and the like  Common typology was the division of humanity into Caucasoid, mongoloid, and negroid  But since the 1950s, the scientific consensus is that racial classifications of humanity are arbitrary, that genetic differences are significant  Only a fraction of 1 % of all human genes are necessarily shared by members of the same race  Race is a biological myth  Nonetheless, many believe in the existence of ethnicity and race and organize their relationships with others on the basis of those beliefs RACISM:  Sociologists define racism as both a certain kind of idea and a certain kind of institutional practice  Traditionally, racism is defined as the belief that humans are subdivided into distinct hereditary groups that are innately different in their social behaviour and mental capacities and that can therefore be ranked as superior or inferior  Canada fares well in international comparisons  TYPES SINCE THEN: 1. NEW RACISM - a broadened definition - developed by M. Barker to analyze the way that racist ideas were being expressed in the 70s by British members of Parliament when they were speaking out against British immigration policy - New racism involves the beliefs that races are different from each other and that social problems are created when different groups try to live together - The underlying intent is to socially exclude, marginalize, and denigrate certain groups of people, but to do so without reference to unalterable biology 2. INSTITUTIONAL RACISM - refers to discriminatory racial practices built into such prominent structures as the political, economic and education systems - takes three forms i. some institutional practices are based on explicitly racist ideas (Example: Japanese Canadians were denied their basic civil rights, were forcibly expelled from their homes and had their property confiscated during WWII) ii. some institutional practices arose from racist ideas (Example: the 1966 federal government admitted a small number of black workers from the Caribbean to work on Canadian farms because they were racially suited to labour under hot conditions; racist thinking was used to justify allowing them into Canada during summers but not during winters) iii. institutions sometimes unintentionally restrict the life-chances of certain groups through a variety of seemingly neutral rules, regulations, and procedures (called systematic discrimination) (Example: height and weight requirements for jobs with police forces and fire departments disallowed Asian groups to pursue them)  racial profiling in policing is also about systematic discrimination THEORIES OF RACE AND ETHNIC RELATIONS: 1) SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY - Approach focuses on how prejudice and racism satisfy the psychic needs of certain people - A sub-theory is called FRUSTRATION-AGGRESSION THEORY =  it explains prejudice and racism as forms of hostility that arise from frustration  Suggests that people who are frustrated in their efforts to achieve a desire goal (Example: a better-paying job) respond with aggression  People take out their frustrations on the less powerful  Those of minority are safe and convenient targets  Displacement is also referred to as SCAPEGOATING (Example: the concept of scapegoating to explain anti-Semitism) - Has a seductive, commonsense appeal - Limitations of the theory:  People respond to frustrating circumstances in multiple ways  The theory does not explain why we respond to frustrating circumstances in different ways  Aggression does not always follow frustration  The theory does not explain why some groups and not others are chosen as scapegoats 2) PRIMORDIALISM - Suggests that ethnic and racial attachments reflect an innate tendency for people to seek out others who are similar in terms of language, culture, beliefs, ancestry, and appearance - Ethnic prejudice and racism are ways of maintaining social boundaries - Suggest that prejudice and discrimination stem from our biologically grounded tendency to be nepotistic - Sociobiologists argue that the process of natural selection operates at the level of kin-related groups - Clusters of genes are assumed to be passed on through kin selection an so people are altruistic and ethnocentric because they want to pass on their genes to their own group - Members of their own ethnic or racial group are favoured and anyone outside is distrusted or disliked - Problems:  Shared ethnicity or race does not prevent conflict from erupting  Sociobiology is not able to explain how and why we break out of our genetically programmed nepotism 3) NORMATIVE THEORIES - Concentrates on the way in which prejudices are transmitted through socialization and the social circumstances that compel discriminatory behaviour - SOCIALIZATION APPROACH  Focuses on how we are taught ethnic and racial stereotypes, prejudices, and attitudes by families, peer groups, and the mass media  Our language shapes how we perceive and socially evaluate different racial groups - Limitations of the theory:  Are unable to explain how prejudicial ideas, attitudes, and practices arise in the first place 4) POWER-CONFLICT THEORIES - Marxist scholars have sought to link racism to the structure of capitalist societies - Orthodox Marxists argue that racism is an ideology, a set of statements shaped by economic interests and used by capitalists to mystify social reality and justify the exploitation and the unequal treatment of th groups of people (Example: during the 17 century, American and Caribbean plantation owners justified the use of slaves by denying their humanity; the existence of racist ideas did not cause slavery, but slavery was a system of labour control that was justified by racist ideas) - Racist ideas are used by employers as a means of creating artificial divisions in the working class so as to prevent the formation of a class consciousness that would threaten the social and economic order - A sub-theory is called SPLIT LABOUR-MARKET THEORY =  Developed by E. Bonacich because of the limitations of orthodox Marxism in analyzing racism  Argues that orthodox Marxism has its limitations: i. tends to assume that the capitalist class is all-powerful and that other classes play no role in the development of racist thinking ii. O.M also portrays racism in overly conspirational terms iii. O.M has trouble explaining why racialized conflict so often results in exclusionary practices  Theory suggests that racial and ethnic conflict is rooted in differences in the price of labour  In history, many non-white workers have often received lower wages and high-paid white workers were often replaced; in turn, to protect their own interests, white workers limited capitalists’’ access to cheaper workers and non-whites became the victims of a class struggle between expensive labour, cheap labour, and capitalists  Applies to Canada (For example: during the late 19 century, Chinese workers earned about one-half of the wages that white workers earned)  Theory makes three points: i. Argues that individual racism, ethnic prejudice, and institutional racism emerge from intergroup conflict ii. Theory maintains that prejudicial ideas and discriminatory behaviour are ways of socially marginalizing minority groups that the dominant sees as threats to their position of power and privilege iii. Suggests that to understand ethnic and racial relations, we need to look beyond individual personalities and sociobiological processes and analyze processes of economic, social, and political competition among groups ABORIGINAL PEOPLES:  Ethnic and racial labels are about power (Example: Europeans traveling to the New World overpowered the aboriginals and could ignore the linguistic and cultural differences among indigenous groups and define them in any way they saw fit. They chose the term “Indian”)  Some aboriginal groups have rejected externally imposed labels as part of a search for forms of consciousness, identity, and culture that are untainted by the colonizing power’s definition of the situation  The term “Indian” refers to people who are recognized as Indians by virtue of the federal government’s Indian Act  Many just use the term “First Nations”  The Charter lists three types: Indians, Metis, and Inuits  Deciding who is an Indian is complicated (Example: until 1985, Indian women who married non-Indian men were considered no longer to be Indian. Bill C-31 regained their status)  Indian bands now have the power to develop their own membership codes  There are two definitions of Metis: 1. Descendants of the historic Metis who evolved in Western Canada as a people with a common political will (as defined by the Metis National Council) 2. Descendants of the historic Metis in Western Canada and anyone of mixed European-Indian ancestry who defines him/her self as Metis (as defined by the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples)  Inuit are part of a diverse group of people who have lived for many centuries north of the treeline (they are Eskimos) ABORIGINAL CONDITIONS:  The social commitment to social justice for Aboriginal peoples in our own country has not been as strong  “we should first clean our own backyard”  Statistical evidence shows that Aboriginal peoples are the most socially and economically disadvantaged groups in the country  In 2002 – 2003, 46.8 % of housing units on reserves needed to be replaced or repaired  Decent water supplies are not available to all reserve communities (Example: the October 2005 mass evacuation of the Kashechewan reserve)  Aboriginals have much lower family incomes, lower rates of labour-force participation, and higher rates of unemployment than non-Aboriginal Canadians  Crude death rate is higher than that of the entire population  Life expectancy is lower than the Canadian average  Infant mortality rate is higher than the national rate EXPLANATIONS OF ABORIGINAL CONDITIONS: 1) THE GOVERNMENT’S VIEW - The federal government sought to assimilate Aboriginal people into mainstream Canadian society - The government forcibly tried to Europeanize Aboriginal people and culture - Their cultural practices and religious ceremonies were outlawed (Example: potlatches); were regarded as pagan, anti-capitalist rituals that inhibited Christianity and capitalist work ethic - The government tried to Christianise children by establishing residential schools that were located far away from their families and communities; were forbidden to speak in their first language, with siblings of the opposite sex, and had their hair shorn - Boys were given extensive training in manual labour and girls were taught domestic labour skills - The goal of the schools was to resocialize children and to instill a new identity in them - The legislative, regulatory, and educational approach to Aboriginal people reflected the view that inequality, poverty and poor social conditions were rooted in cultural and racial inferiority 2) THE CULTURE OF POVERTY THESIS - Many saw sociologists as the source of the “Indian problem” - = a theory which states that some ethnic groups do not readily assimilate, and hence are poor, because their culture does not value economic success, hard work, and achievement - Developed by O. Lewis - Indian culture portrays a present time-orientation, a high value on mutual aid without expectation of return, a lack of emphasis on the possession of material goods, a lack of appreciation for monetary value, and the absence of a capitalist work ethic - This means that a large part of the indian population refuses to find themselves unable to partake in full time economic pursuits - Critics argue that groups generally do not get ahead of lag behind because of their cultural values, but are born into certain situations in life and adopt the values and attitudes that are consistent with their life-chances; low aspirations = dismal job prospects; culture of poverty is a consequence, not cause 3) CONFLICT THEORY - Focusing on blocked opportunities as opposed to culture - A sub-theory is called the INT
More Less

Related notes for SOC101Y1

Log In


Don't have an account?

Join OneClass

Access over 10 million pages of study
documents for 1.3 million courses.

Sign up

Join to view


By registering, I agree to the Terms and Privacy Policies
Already have an account?
Just a few more details

So we can recommend you notes for your school.

Reset Password

Please enter below the email address you registered with and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Add your courses

Get notes from the top students in your class.